Press review

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Democrat candidates take aim at high drug prices as Trump's plans 'hit buffers'

Country : Ireland, U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, 19 July (APM) - The Daily Telegraph on Friday carried a feature claiming that U.S. President Donald Trump's plans to lower prescription drugs prices has "hit the buffers".
Garry White, chief investment commentator at wealth manager Charles Stanley, wrote that Trump's most ambitious proposal, targeting rebates given to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), has been abandoned.
With an election coming up next year, White said it means that Democrat presidential candidates are seeking to cap the price that drugs companies can charge. And Trump may also make similar moves, he added.
One Democratic candidate Senator Joe Biden said he "understands that the future of pharmacological interventions is not traditional chemical drugs but specialised biotech drugs that will have little to no competition to keep prices in check".
As a result, he wants to enact hard caps on prices for drugs manufactured by a single company and to cap annual price rises.
Senator Kamala Harris has called for "march-in" rights to rescind a drug company’s patent and license it to a lower-cost rival for "the most egregious offenders" when it comes to high drug prices.

AstraZeneca sets aside £12 million for redundancy payments at former factory

AstraZeneca has ended a dispute with former employees after agreeing to set aside £12 million to cover redundancy costs, both the Financial Times and The Times said on Wednesday.
The costs relate to the collapse of a drugs manufacturing plant near Bristol just over two years after it was sold by AZN for a nominal £1 in December 2016 to Avara, a start-up contract manufacturer.
Unite, the union representing the 230 workers who lost their jobs, claimed AZN gave them "cast-iron guarantees" that if Avara went under within three years their enhanced redundancy rights would be protected and paid by AstraZeneca.

GSK to name former AZN exec Jonathan Symonds as chair

GlaxoSmithKline is looking to appoint former AstraZeneca executive Jonathan Symonds to replace Sir Philip Hampton as chairman later this year, both The Times and the Financial Times said on Monday.
The news comes as GSK prepares to break up its business, with the FT pointing out that Symonds has experience in carrying out "transformative deals" having been involved in AZN's acquisition of MedImmune.

Gilead expands Galapagos alliance with $5.1 billion deal

Gilead Sciences has agreed a $5.1 billion deal to increase its stake in Belgian biotech Galapagos, the FT said at the weekend (APMHE 63699).
The two companies are already involved in an alliance to cooperate on an arthritis treatment but will now acquire the rights outside Europe to two additional drugs that are in development.
The FT said the deal is the first major move by Gilead's new CEO Daniel O'Day since he joined from Roche in March.

GSK's $5.1 billion Tesaro pays off as Zejula impresses in ovarian cancer

GlaxoSmithKline's Zejula has impressed in a trial involving women with ovarian cancer, the FT said on Monday.
The paper said the UK pharma acquired the drug has part of a "controversial" $5.1 billion deal to buy Tesaro.
The PARP inhibitor met its primary endpoint of statistically significant improvement in progression free survival for women with ovarian cancer when taken as the first treatment after a patient has undergone chemotherapy.

Scotland cannot guarantee drug supplies if no Brexit deal is agreed

The supply of medicines cannot be guaranteed in Scotland if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the SNP’s Brexit minister has said, according to The Sunday Times.
Mike Russell said that arrangements had been in place with the British government to ensure continuity of supplies for the original Brexit date of 31 March, but preparations for the new deadline of 31 October had not been finalised.

Rising insulin prices in U.S. hitting ethnic groups hardest

The Observer on Sunday carried a feature on rising costs of insulin in the U.S., saying that black, Hispanic and Asian adults are hit hardest.
The paper said these groups are significantly more likely to have diabetes than white adults and are also less likely to be insured.
It added that insulin costs have risen so high that one in four diabetes patients say they ration their insulin, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in January.

More to come in opioid drug crisis

Two decades into the opioid addiction epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 people, the industry is now confronting a cluster of lawsuits and enforcement actions seeking to hold them accountable for a health crisis that adds up to an economic burden of $78.5 billion annually, the FT reported on Tuesday.
Purdue Pharma, which sparked the boom in opioid prescriptions with high-profile marketing of OxyContin, and generic drugmaker Teva have recently settled with the state of Oklahoma for $270 million and $85 million respectively. On Monday, a judge there heard closing arguments in the state’s efforts to extract much more from Johnson & Johnson.
Oklahoma contends that the company created a public nuisance by flooding the state with painkillers and misleading marketing, and providing crucial ingredients for other opioid makers. J&J counters that its medications account for less than 1% of the U.S. market and that its actions were "appropriate and responsible".
But this is just a taste of what is to come, the FT said. McKesson, the U.S.' largest drug distributor agreed in May to pay $37 million to settle opioid-related claims brought by West Virginia. In October, the first case brought by a coalition of more than 1,000 cities and counties against 22 opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies is scheduled for trial in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio. The plaintiffs' expert argues that fixing the problem could take 10 years and cost more than $480 billion.

Louvre removes Sackler name from exhibition

The Louvre in Paris has become the first big cultural institution to remove the Sackler name from its premises after protests against the family whose drug company has been blamed for rising rates of opioid abuse, The Times said on Friday.
The paper said masking tape was put over plaques in the Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, which houses the Louvre’s Persian and Levantine collection.

Judge reduces Bayer Roundup verdict to $25 million from $80 million

A U.S. federal judge on Monday slashed damages owed by Bayer in a case related to claims that exposure to weed killer Roundup causes cancer, the FT reported on Tuesday (APMHE 63721).
U.S. district judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco reduced the award to $25.3 million from the jury’s original verdict of $80.3 million. He also rejected Bayer's request for a new trial.

Consort medical warns plant explosion will hit profits

Medical device manufacturer Consort Medical has announced that its profits will be hit by a small explosion at a facility in Northumberland in north east England, the FT reported on Monday.
The incident, involving the "expulsion" of a chemical which contaminated the Aesica Cramlington API facility, is expected to cause profits to fall by up to £5 million this year. (APMHE 63702)

J&J boosts outlook

Johnson & Johnson has beaten profit and revenue expectations and raised its full-year forecasts, as strong international sales offset pressure on drug prices in the U.S. and litigation costs fell, the FT reported on Tuesday. (APMHE 63722)
The world's largest healthcare group increased its guidance for 2019, forecasting revenue of between $80.8 billion and $81.6 billion, up slightly from last quarter’s guidance of $80.4 billion to $81.2 billion. The company reiterated its forecast for adjusted operational earnings per share of between $8.73 and $8.83. 

Irish woman spends €1,000 on diabetes drugs she was entitled to for free

The Times on Thursday reported on a woman in Ireland who spent €1,000 on diabetes medication that she was entitled to for free as she was not informed about a government scheme.
Ireland has a long-term illness (LTI) scheme provides a range of drugs and medical appliances without charge to people living with chronic conditions. The woman said she was only notified of the scheme when she happened to move chemist.

Medicxi secures €400 million of investment

Life sciences investment firm Medicxi has secured a further €400 million from investors in just six weeks, the FT said on Friday.
Pharma giants Novartis and J&J were among the latest investors for the European venture capital fund, which now has more than $1 billion in total investment.
The paper spoke to Medicxi's co-founder Francesco De Rubertis who said the funding "shows that biotech in Europe is much more credible".
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